At the recent Long Beach Comic-Con, I spied someone familiar in the midst of the madness: an older — yet still fit — figure reading a book. Seemingly unfazed by the swarm of activity around him, he was as serene as he was content. As out of place as he was right at home.
It was none other than Herbert Jefferson Jr., the 69-year-old actor best known for playing Lieutenant Boomer on the original “Battlestar Galactica” TV series. He was gracious enough to take some time out of his busy day meeting fans to talk about his time in space and how to survive a “con.”
Question: Can you make a living just doing conventions?
Answer: Maybe some people can. I don’t depend on conventions to pay bills. There are those whose status in the industry may make a living at it. I don’t command the same type of fee as say, a William Shatner, or one of the actors from films like “X-Men” do.
Q: Do people mainly remember you as Lt. Boomer from “Battlestar Galactica”?
A: Yes. Even though I have been in the business for over 50 years and done a lot of award-winning work in film, theater and television, people know me mainly from “Battlestar Galactica,” especially when I do the pop culture and sci-fi conventions.
Somehow that show ran for just one season, and people have been watching it ever since.
Q: When you were filming the original “Battlestar Galactica,” did you have any idea it would have such impact on pop culture?
A: We never know when we are working on an original piece. We do our best to breathe life into it and get it on its feet, but we never know what the reaction will be from the general public. We never know.
Q: What do you think the last appeal of the show is?
A: We only lasted one season. A lot of people don’t realize that there are less than 30 hours total. Many of us who worked on the project, we attribute the lasting appeal to the vision of the show’s creator, Glen A. Larson — the way the story was told, the fact that the fate of the entire human race was on the line with the story. Which immediately drew people in.
Also, it seems you can join “Battlestar Galactica” anywhere in the series, and you know what is going on. You know who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. And the chemistry between our characters.
Q: Were you involved in the newer series?
A: I was not a part of the new “Battlestar Galactica.” I have no connection at all to that show. The only actor who worked on the new “re-imagined,” as they like to call it, was Richard Hatch. I call it a remake.
I did come back to do something called “Galactica 1980.”
Q: Why was “Galactica 1980” such a failure?
A: It was almost as though Universal and ABC shot themselves in the foot twice. First for canceling the original, then they decide to bring it back on a shoestring budget [and] marketed it to a younger audience. From the original cast it was only Lorne Greene and myself. It was an insult and slap in the face to the original fan base. That was why it was so short-lived.
Q: What are you up to acting wise these days?
A: I’m not the retiring type. There is always something to do in this industry that I have a passion for. Most recently I finished a pilot for a new science fiction series specifically made for the Internet called “Star Trek: Renegades” made by the same people who brought us “Star Trek: Of Gods and Men.” Lots of familiar faces from the original “Star Trek” and “Voyager” and “Enterprise” and all that.
They asked me to come aboard to do a cameo, so I did. It remains to be seen if CBS/Paramount will pick it up for a series. I’ve also got some theater pieces in the works. I always like to keep a few irons in the fire.